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What to expect as end stage CHF
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What to expect as end stage CHF

My Mom was diagnosed with CHF about 8 yrs ago. She is 77 and lives alone, as my father passed suddenly 2 years ago. She has been prone to winter depression, particularly since my father died, but refuses to discuss antidepressants. Lately, she cannot perform any basic lifestyle requirements, like letting her dogs out and in, feeding them, cooking her own dinner, etc. She cannot even walk without significant support. She is no longer eating properly, although her grief has caused her to lose over 30 pounds that she needed to lose for years. Sadly, she did not lose it in a healthy way. She never engaged in healthy activity (like exercise or careful diet), and chose instead to lay around and let me father wait on her. She has spent mh of the last 8 years in bed.
Alarmingly in the last 2 weeks, she cannot sleep and has developed significant bloating in the gut. Her doctor has ordered a creatinine test and I imagine her kidney function is poor.
I may be faced (as an only child) with forcing her to accept outside help and care.
I can't seem to get a concise answer on what to expect at the end stage of this condition. Will she likely develop a major organ failure and pass suddenly? Will she experience a slow painful passing for which I need to prepare? How do I know what to look for and what to "force" on her in terms of care. Like most elderly, she desperately want to remain home with her 2 dogs. I'd like to try to honor that if at all possible.
Tags: chf, end stages, help
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592969_tn?1248329005
My mom had CHF for 12 years and the last few months were very hard.  Medication keeps the patient alive, but does not provide quality life.  Left side heart failure symptoms are swelling in abdomen and fluid in lungs.  Right side heart failure is swelling in the legs and ankles.  Left side is worse than right side.  The last few months of life she will definitely need someone there.  There are things like getting out of bed will be impossible without help and there will be extreme shortness of breath and smothering feeling.  What can happen because the heart cannot pump blood to the body and organs as it should, the organs can shut down causing cardiac shock.  The heart ventricle can stop working and the lips, ears, nose, feet and hands can turn blue very blue.  Any blue is an emergency.  Just sitting in the recliner can be miserable.  It is very hard to see someone you love go through this, so prepare yourself.  My mom had trouble sleeping 6 months before she passed away.  She had to sit up in bed a night and had to be helped to the bathroom in the morning after taking a water pill.  She would cough up clear and white mucus.  Water would come out her rectum.  When a person has CHF they are very limited as to what they can do, everything is a big effort even taking a shower is exhausting.   She should be weighing herself everyday, and if she is gaining a pound a day that is too much and she will need to notify her doctor so the water pill can be adjusted.  Keeping the water off is the main thing and no salt.  Make sure she is taking her medication as prescribed by her doctor.  Many people in our family have had CHF and my grandmother has it now.  Take care and get some rest.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for being so candid. I have had a difficult time getting straight answers from the doctors. I guess they don't want to scare you, but I am a fairly pragmatic person and want to prepare to take care of her the best I can. Do you have any experience with finding resources for this type of care and the cost?
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Avatar_n_tn
My mom was 77 years old and I didnt know what to do to prevent it from happening.. She was having all the symptoms and she was taking her medicine so i guess help keep her alive but Was there any thing that I couldve done?? When  the doctors told me that she had four months to live I was in shock and me and my family all came together to make her life here on earth a great one and her transition to heaven even better.. could there have been any thing that I could've done to keep her here?? she was also Diabetic and she had a long history of high blood pressure for years.. we gave her fresh water and tryed to keep her from eating alot of salt and gave her her meds.. some days she was good and then there were some days that she was soo tired that she needed to rest all day.. then her organs werent functioning right so we kept taking her to the hospital for treatment but we never kept her there.. she didn't want to die in the hospital.. we kept this going until it got to the FINAL STAGES and there was nothing else we could do!! so with in that next week after She passed away at home with her family the way she wanted with no suffering and a whole lot of love.. I was there for the whole transition. She stayed with us for 6 months instead of four so I was happy about that.. but I still felt like i could have researched and did what i needed to do to keep her here.. am I feeling guilty?? am I in denial? am I still mourning the lost of my mother? COULD I HAVE DONE MORE? I NEED HELP
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Avatar_m_tn
you did all you could, were her strength when she was most afraid.  You did exactly what she needed.  My father had a heart attack at 60, 13 years ago, and has CHF.  He recently was hospitalized with a stomach bacteria. I hope I can give the same gift.  We want them here longer but medicine has it's limits.  That's where you picked up and did exactly what was needed.  I know she is grateful and was less afraid because of it.  
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